Sitting up tall is a hard habit to learn. If you tend to round forward, a variety of postural issues can affect your musculoskeletal system, as seen with upper crossed syndrome. Whether you are sitting at a desk, driving your car, or texting on your phone, it’s always ideal to focus on lifting your chest toward the sky to help align the vertebra. This stacking of your spine will help the other pieces of your kinetic chain fall into place. Yoga’s many benefits include helping your body align while also bringing an awareness and mindfulness to your body as a whole integrative system. Try on these poses and notice how open and upright you feel after.

What is Upper Crossed Syndrome?

Upper crossed syndrome is characterized by rounded shoulders and a forward head posture. This pattern is common in individuals who sit a lot or who develop pattern overload from one-dimensional exercise. (1,2)

  • Shortened muscles: Pectoralis major and minor, latissimus dorsi, teres major, upper trapezius, levator scapulae, sternocleidomastoid, scalenes
  • Lengthened muscles: Lower and mid-trapezius, serratus anterior, rhomboids, teres minor, infraspinatus, posterior deltoid, and deep cervical flexors
  • Common injuries associated with upper crossed syndrome: Biceps tendonitis, headaches, rotator cuff impingement, shoulder instability, and thoracic outlet syndrome

Why Heart Openers?

Are your clients hitting a training plateau or getting bored with their workout? Are you getting bored using the same exercises? Try manipulating the training variables to bring in some fun factor while staying true to your client’s goals and abilities.

Sometimes we get stuck in a training rut, whether for our clients or ourselves, using the same recipe of exercises we know will bring serious results. To continue to stimulate our muscles, and our minds, these tried and true training plans could use some variety swaps in the session ingredient mix.

The body adapts to the changes that it continually encounters, which is called the SAID principle: Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands. Whether this is strength or weight loss, our body gets better and more efficient the more it is exposed to the same stimulus. In order to break through a plateau (or boredom), the demand needs to change so the body will continue to adapt. Change those demands by modifying the acute variables of exercise selection, repetitions, sets, intensity, tempo, volume, rest, frequency and duration. Here are some ways to adjust these demands but be sure your clients’ fitness level and goals are a match for the adjustments.

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